If you are running several outlets and need to store produce from one day to the next you will need to ensure you are have proper storage.
Fruit and vegetables and other fresh produce are very perishable and will go off quite quickly, especially in warm temperatures. Wholefoods such as cereals and pulses have much longer shelf lives and will last more than 12 months in optimum storage conditions. However, you still need to store them properly to prevent them deteriorating.
The following tips will help you to keep your produce in good condition:
- All food should be stored in a clean dry place, off the floor and out of direct sunlight.
- Most produce should be stored on shelving that is easy to clean, preferably without nooks and crannies to harbour dirt or pests.
- Most foods are better kept cool, from about 8C to 15C . Warmer conditions will reduce the shelf life.
- All foods should be properly rotated so that older stock is used first.
- Check your stock regularly - daily for fruit and vegetables, and weekly for wholefoods.
- Keeping some fruit and vegetables in a fridge or cold store will make them last longer. Chilled storage is essential if you are supplying meat, dairy products or fish.
- If you only have limited space in a fridge it is good to use this for items likely go off quickest, or that are most expensive such as soft fruits, salads and leafy green vegetables. Some items should not be stored in the fridge, for example bananas and potatoes.
- Most fruit and vegetables should not be kept for more than 3 or 4 days - the main types of produce that can be stored for longer are apples, potatoes, onions, pumpkins, and unwashed root vegetables (washed carrots will go off much quicker).
- Items that are not ripe when they are delivered, such as pears and tomatoes, do not need to be stored in the fridge straight away but once they start to ripen they should be kept cool.
- Once a box, sack or packet of any dried goods has been opened, the contents should be kept in a sealed container with a tight-fitting lid. Make sure you keep the batch details and the 'best before' date - it can be cut off the packaging and taped to the container.
- Clean your storage area regularly and sweep up all food spills, wipe shelving and clean up dusty corners.
- The main problems that may occur with dried goods are mould, sugaring on dried fruit, fermentation or infestation by pests (such as beetles, caterpillars or rodents). If you find an infestation, remove the stock from your building as soon as possible and then seek specialist advice, such as from your local authority environmental health officer.
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